Student-parents balance class and kids

From inception to publication, this story has been both eye-opening and inspiring. Our group came to this topic of student-parents after personally interacting with a few of these individuals in our classes. We wondered about their day-to-day lives and thought about the difficulties they must face. If my teammates and I feel stressed enough as college students without children, then what must it be like to raise one or even multiple children while also working toward your degree? So we set-out to answer our questions.

It was a concern that speaking with student-parents would prove difficult. But from the beginning, we received help, tips and referrals for who would be best to interview. Student-parents responded to us with what felt most like excitement- somebody was telling their story. We went to the children’s center to talk to them about the resources they offer student-parents. They were initially interested in the story but upon email, they became unresponsive. We sent a follow-up email several days later and still, no response. We eventually returned to the children’s center to follow up in person. This ended up being a successful trip because we were able to catch the manager Tonya who was very responsive and followed-up our meeting with a phone call to confirm the best time to meet for an interview.

Our first interview was with Felix, married parent of one. His interview was very positive and he spoke very appreciatively of his situation.

“Every student is dealing with a different challenge and this just happens to be mine,” he said. “I see this as a blessing more than anything.”

He said he has a system with his wife, who works as an elementary school teacher nearby. Felix cares for their son in the morning before his class and his wife cares for him in the afternoon when she gets off work. They don’t use the child center.

My teammates and I found Felix really positive. He had such a grateful attitude.

Next we interviewed Abby, single parent of two. Her experience was very unique and seemed extremely challenging. Her partner recently left and no longer helps raise their two children.

Her kids go to the children’s center during the day while she goes to class and they all live with her mother-in-law while she finishes school. She cried extensively during the interview.

My team and I walked away feeling thankful for the lack of stress in our lives and inspired by her dedication to her degree and family.

One of my teammates Claire Blachowski said she spent the entirety of her seven-mile run the next day considering her own priorities.

“Interviewing student parents will be one of the most memorable interviews during my time at Cal Poly,” Blachowski said.

Another teammate Casey Sublette really valued the time we spent with these student-parents.

“It was an eye-opening experience,” Sublette said.

Another teammate and writer of our story Sophia O’Keefe said the experience was unique for her too.

“Meeting and talking to the student parents really put things into perspective for me about their difficulties,” O’Keefe said.

Social Media engagement was a bit more difficult than I figured it would be for such an interesting story. We did not receive any serious responses through Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter.  The one response we did receive was a joke.